» Naloxone clinic set for Wednesday in Schenectady; Santabarbara, Mootooveren sponsoring in wake of overdoses
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» Naloxone clinic set for Wednesday in Schenectady; Santabarbara, Mootooveren sponsoring in wake of overdoses

Jun 30, 2023

FILE - Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara

SCHENECTADY — A rash of seven fatal suspected opioid overdoses has swept through Schenectady in the last week, with the county, police department and elected officials scheduling a series of training sessions in response designed to combat the opioid epidemic.

Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam, and Schenectady City Councilman John Mootooveren are sponsoring a naloxone training at the Engine Hill Community Center, 735 Crane St., on Wednesday from 6-8 p.m.

The free training will educate attendees on how to identify risk factors for a potential overdose, how to be able to recognize a suspected overdose and how to administer the anti-overdose medication naloxone in the event of an overdose to another individual.

“This epidemic has taken a devastating toll on our communities,” Santabarbara said on Monday. “It’s of critical importance that we all learn how to become part of the solution to solving this issue as a community. That’s what this event is about. This training is to aid in the fight against substance abuse disorders and ultimately help save lives.”

The training will be conducted by New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS) opioid overdose specialists, with the topics including the stigmatization of addiction and the parameters of the state’s 911 Good Samaritan Law.

“Some people may not understand what those laws say, but it does empower you to assist individuals and I think it’s very important to understand that,” Santabarbara said.

The city has recorded seven overdoses in six days between Aug. 20 and 25, with Schenectady police responding to a suspected opioid overdose on Thursday evening in Mont Pleasant and another in the Northside neighborhood on Friday morning.

“It’s a tragic situation,” Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy said. “There are options for people who are dealing with drug issues and we want them to reach out to providers. If the police department or fire department happens to be their first point of contact, feel free to reach out to those people who will then direct them to an appropriate level of support and care.”

Mootooveren said the Wednesday night event had been in the planning stages before the city’s recent wave of opioid overdoses, which follows another epidemic which saw eight Schenectady residents perish due to opioid overdoses in eight days in the first week of July.

“It’s a major concern for all of us,” Mootooveren said on Monday. “That’s why we’re stepping up to the plate at the level that we can to spread awareness through this training. We’re concerned about our community and we’re concerned about our residents. These things should not be happening.”

A second naloxone training session sponsored by the county and New Choices Recovery Center will take place on Sept. 6 from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. in the McChesney Room at the Karen B. Johnson (Central) Library in Schenectady.

“We encourage the public to come out and learn about overdoses and how to reverse them,” Schenectady Police Lt. Ryan Macherone said. “They’ll be able to walk away, just like last time, with a naloxone kit. If they ever have someone that experiences an overdose, they would be able to help reverse it and save their life.”

New Choices Recovery Center will also host an Overdose Awareness Vigil in the city’s Central Park Rose Garden on Thursday evening from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. to honor the lives lost in the city this year due to drug overdoses.

Santabarbara said he plans to hold additional naloxone training sessions in his district, with a future event slated for Amsterdam to be announced.

“Our office has done quite a few of these trainings in the past,” Santabarbara said. “During COVID, we were forced to stop the in-person training for a little while, but the need for this type of training is still there and it’s so important.”

Contact Ted Remsnyder at [email protected]. Follow him on X at @TedRemsnyder.

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